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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Developing cultural intelligence is key to success

By Robert Young/ reporter

Sandra Upton discusses with a TR student the importance in a career of having cultural intelligence skills. Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian
Sandra Upton discusses with a TR student the importance in a career of having cultural intelligence skills.
Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian

If students want to effectively function across cultures different from their own and become global citizens, they need cultural intelligence, a speaker from the University of Michigan said Nov. 18.

In her role as educational initiatives vice president for the Cultural Intelligence Center, Sandra Upton helps integrate cultural intelligence with organizations and facilitate study groups abroad.

The training and consulting firm works with hundreds of colleges and universities around the world to develop the cultural intelligence of students, faculty and administration.

“Cultural intelligence is a skill,” she said.

It is not something people are born with like emotional intelligence, which is an awareness of strengths and weaknesses that does not take cultural intelligence into consideration, Upton said.

“If you have cultural intelligence, you have some level of emotional intelligence, but it is not a prerequisite,” she said.

For example, cultural intelligence becomes important when students study abroad to complete their academic requirements.

Upton said they need to function effectively in various cultures, but when Westerners are faced with them, they sometimes have the idea they should still have things their own way even when they are the guests.

Upton offered advice on becoming globally successful.

“You must develop not only business acumen but cultural intelligence,” she said. “We know that students who have a high cultural intelligence have increased career opportunities.”

Upton said the need for cultural intelligence is supported by facts.

“[2011 was] the first year in the history of the United States that more minority babies were born than white,” she said. “K-12 students of color are the majority.”

Most institutions of higher learning are lacking a way to measure cultural intelligence to know if they are teaching the correct methods, Upton said.

Individualism is when an emphasis is placed on individual goals and individual rights whereas collectivism places an emphasis on group goals.

“The majority of the world is collectivists while the U.S. is individualists,” she said.

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